According to reporting from the New York Post, a type of prenuptial agreement colloquially referred to as a ‘pet-nup’ is becoming increasingly popular among younger couples. Based on a survey conducted by Direct Line Pet Insurance, researchers found that approximately one in twenty pet owners report that they created a pet-nuptial agreements specifically to deal with what will happen to their pet during a divorce. Many more pet owners said that they would consider getting one.
Several Factors are Driving the Rise in Pet-Nuptial Agreements
There are a number of reasons behind the rise in couples seeking prenuptial agreements to account for their pets. Most notably, in recent decades, the average age of first marriage has risen considerably in New York and all across the United States. One of the effects of this is that more and more people are getting a pet prior to getting married. For these couples, a pet-nup can be valuable, as the divorce laws in most states are ill-equipped to deal with pets.
In New York, Pets are Still Property
Under New York law, pets are treated like any other type of property. This means that New York courts will only consider the monetary value of the pet during disputes over asset division. As Syracuse prenuptial agreement lawyer Richard J. Bombardo explains, “Pets can be a source of significant conflict in divorce. As the law currently exists in New York state, courts must treat pets as property. A simple economic value will be assigned to the animal. Unfortunately, this means that courts will not be able to account for the sentimental value of pets.”
California Changed Its Rules on Pets and Divorce
It should be noted that changes may be coming in how states handle pets in divorce. Following the lead of Alaska, California recently changed its laws regarding pets and property division. In 2018, the state enacted the nation’s second so-called ‘pet custody’ law.
Under this law, courts will view pets differently than other property. Pets in California are no longer treated like a couch or a computer. State courts now have the legal authority to consider which spouse primarily cared for the pet and which one will be able to give it a better home going forward. It remains to be seen whether other states, including New York, will eventually enact similar legislation.